Television immerses children into an unreal world, and at a young age, they cannot distinguish between a television program and a commercial. Sitting a toddler in front of a television for hours isn’t a wise choice, but there are other options.
American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no television for young children under the age of 2 and that those over 2 watch only one to two hours of quality programming per day.
My son is now 10, and I read about the AAP’s recommendation before he was born. I decided that I would not allow him to watch any television before his 2nd birthday, although we did see a couple of movies. When asked what he wanted for his 3rd birthday, he answered, The Lion King and Finding Nemo. I had no television in the house, so I bought one, with a built-in VCR, and he repeatedly watched his two favorite movies.
After his 3rd birthday, I allowed my boy to watch Caillou, Sesame Street, and Between the Lions at home. I carefully selected videos for him, and he enjoyed them immensely; his intellectual curiosity and behavior did not change.
There are parents who select appropriate DVDs and other programming and would consider no television for young children as being extreme. Other parents choose not to allow their children to watch television at all. My choice was the no television one until my son was 3.
However, since pre-birth, I have read to him. I don’t have to now, because he’s 10 and reading at an 10th grade level, but still enjoys read alouds. I’m positive it brings to mind memories of me cuddling with him and reading his favorite book “just one more time.”
Television, No Television, and Other Options
During different periods in my child’s life, I have used one extreme or the other, but recently found a balance. Currently, my son is not watching any television, although he doesn’t fit into the young children category. He is, by his own choice, watching educational DVDs on history and science and an occasional popular or classic movie. Recently, we watched, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which now tops his list of great movies.
He hasn’t watched television for about two months and told me he doesn’t miss it, that he’s more active, and is enjoying his past times of art, photography, and scooter/skateboard riding even more.
Each parent knows her child and must decide if the no television for young children rule is best. Children’s brains are developing at a phenomenal rate prior to age 2 and excessive TV and other visual media can interfere with play, exploration, and social development.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy on Children and Television
How TV Affects Your Child, Kidshealth.org